When Taylor Swift walked on stage in Sydney a couple of weeks ago, I got all choked up. Was it because I was seeing a mega-star in the flesh? Nope. Was it because she looked like a rainbow on a dewy spring morning? Nope. (She did though.)
It was because I was looking at someone MY OWN AGE who seems to have mastered total, blissful self-belief. Her lips were glossed with humble pride, her eyes were bright with liberation, and her cheeks were round with the satisfaction of success. As an actor, writer, and all-round creative myself, I was touched. Taylor’s strong sense of self is – in essence – what all artists strive for.
So what exactly are the ingredients that make Taylor the apple pie everybody wants a piece of? Let’s break it down . . .
- She owns her flaws
Taylor isn’t just renowned for her love of dapper boys and cats, she’s also a self-proclaimed bumbler. With a lanky frame, two left feet, and a gawky giggle, Taylor holds nothing back when it comes to her “awkwardness.” Now, I put “awkwardness” in quotes because I don’t really think there’s such a thing. All human beings are awkward! How do you think we were born into this world? Walking and talking like Audrey Hepburn? No way! Our bodies and minds are complex and the relationship between our bodies and minds is complex. Sometimes, we just can’t figure it out – sometimes Taylor just can’t figure it out – and that’s okay.
However, in our conformist society, we’re taught to hide these frailties and “hiccup” moments for fear of ostracism. So why is it that we idolise people like Taylor Swift who let themselves be silly, who fear no consequence or humiliation? Because human beings are drawn to leadership, and leadership comes from ultimate confidence, and ultimate confidence comes from ultimate self-acceptance.
Before any musician, actor, writer, dancer or comedian can be successful, we must first face our raw, uninhibited selves. How can we know what we’re honestly capable of if we don’t let it all hang out? Who knows. Down in the dusty depths of our identities, we might just find a knack for juggling.
- She knows her brand
A large part of Taylor’s charm is that she’s a hopeless romantic. Even though the cynics say that chivalry is dead and the critics say that the demand for “Rom Coms” is decreasing, she hasn’t backed down. She knows that she writes upbeat, delightfully palatable pop anthems; she knows that she likes pink Ray Bans and peplum, and she knows that she’s not going to wake up tomorrow morning and record a Janis Joplin album.
One of the biggest problems with being an artist is that we can get bogged down in what’s trending. Because we’re shape-shifters by craft, we’re easily influenced by the actions of others. “Oh, ‘The Beautiful Lie’ is such a hit, I need to become Sarah Snook.” “Oh, Sia is so popular, I need to start wearing a wig over my face.” No. No, you don’t.
Just because artists get rejected A SHIT TONNE of times over the course of our careers doesn’t mean we need to become something bigger, better, funnier, broodier, blonder, or more brunette than we are. It’s just not the right time for us.
But take it from Taylor Swift, our time will come, and it will involve a squad of Victoria’s Secret Models and be glorious.
- She capitalises on the haters
Arguably, the most important part of being an artist is learning how to rise above the cacophony of insults, prying, and other bullshit.
Not only does Taylor successfully rise above these things (like a magical phoenix), she takes all that negativity, looks the haters in the eyeballs, and sings it back to them. I mean, what greater torture is there than having the song of an artist you hate stuck in your head? THE WOMAN IS A GENIUS.
It’s also an effective way to stay positive – take something angry and turn it into something happy. One of the best tips I’ve ever received, as an actor, is to take nervous or pessimistic energy (especially when facing an audition) and turn it into anticipation and excitement. Energy is just energy, after all – it’s how you charge your energy that makes the difference. Taylor Swift has made the conscious decision to charge her energy with positivity and tongue-in-cheek humour and now THE HATERS EAT HER DUST.
All jokes aside, it’s totally fine if Taylor Swift’s not your (sweet, sweet) cup of tea. But my point here is, find your Taylor Swift. Who drives you to be the best version of yourself? Who makes you want to jump up on stage and take the world’s breath away? Who makes you want to take more acting, singing, or writing classes? Who makes you get embarrassingly weepy at a concert full of tweens?
Find that person and then be that person to someone else.